Eduard Franck, String Sextet No.2 in D Major, Op.50

Eduard Franck Of Franck’s Second Sextet, the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann states:

"This sextet belongs in the concert hall. It demonstrates that its composer was a master of musical form and in possession of a gift which allows him to produce strong and noble melodies.”

Eduard Franck (1817-1893) was born in Breslau, the capital of the Prussian province of Silesia. He was the fourth child of a wealthy and cultivated banker who exposed his children to the best and brightest that Germany had to offer. Frequenters to the Franck home included such luminaries as Heine, Humboldt, Heller, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. His family’s financial position allowed Franck to study with Mendelssohn as a private student in Dusseldorf and later in Leipzig. As a talented pianist, he embarked upon a dual career as a concert artist and teacher for more than four decades during the course of which he held many positions. Although he was highly regarded as both a teacher and performer, he never achieved the public recognition of his better known contemporaries such as Mendelssohn, Schumann or Liszt. As fine a pianist as the first two and perhaps even a better teacher, the fact that he failed to publish very many of his compositions until toward the end of his life, in part, explains why he was not better known. Said to be a perfectionist, he continually delayed releasing his works until they were polished to his demanding standards. Schumann, among others, thought quite highly of the few works he did publish during the first part of his life.

The opening to Sextet No.2, Allegro, is spacious and written on a large scale. Despite the strong presence of chords in the cellos, the music is not particularly heavy sounding. The second theme bears a remarkable likeness to one of the prominent melodies from Smetana's The Moldau. The gorgeous, funereal second Adagio molto espressivo e sostenuto which comes next is clearly an elegy. Its sad main theme is extraordinarily beautiful. The third movement, Allegro, begins as a heavy-footed scherzo. But before long, it evolves into an elves dance. Soon the elves and ogres are dancing together. The attractive finale, Allegro molto, might almost be a tribute to Mendelssohn both melodically and rhythmically.

The first and only edition of this work was published in 1894. We have corrected the many serious errors which unfortunately occurred in that edition. It with great pleasure that we reintroduce this work after more than a century of its being unavailable. Professionals and amateurs alike will find that it makes a very welcome addition to the known sextet literature.

In addition, we are pleased to offer this Sextet in a version for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Cello and Bass. Our bass part was made by Anthony Scelba, noted bass soloist, Professor of Music and Director of the Concert Artists Program of Kean University. Professor Scelba has rendered the cello unisons in octaves and his close attention to detail gives this work an entirely new and fresh perspective, making it a welcome addition to the double bass chamber music repertoire.

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